Self-publishing offers mystery writer alternative
December 22, 2012
Rather than go through the complicated and highly selective process of being accepted by a publishing company, many writers are turning to self-publishing.
According to bibliography information enterprise Bowker, the number of self-published books produced annually in the U.S. has nearly tripled, growing 287 percent since 2006, and now tallies more than 235,000 print and "e" titles.
Grass Valley's Ron Cherry decided to self-publish his mystery novels, "Foul Shot," which Cherry plans to release by Christmas, and "Christmas Cracker" about Morg Mahoney, a private investigator who goes to England for Christmas and is soon embroiled in a case involving kidnapping and murder.
The book was written in 1999 and after finishing the novel, Cherry said he sent it to publishers, but fielded feedback that the novel was "good, but not good enough."
"I sent it out and I encountered the oxymoronic statement of 'good rejection,' where they said they liked it, but just weren't ready to take it on," Cherry said. "I was honestly discouraged."
Cherry said publishing houses oftentimes support famous authors, rarely taking a chance on new writers.
"Most amalgamated publishing houses go for the 'safe bet' with something they know people will buy because of the name."
Cherry eventually came across the concept of self-publishing, made easy with outlets like Amazon.com, which offer self-published books and e-books, on a print-on-demand basis where the books are printed after being purchased.
"You have Amazon.com which allows you to publish a book as an e-book and print on demand on an equal basis and it can be printed nationwide and worldwide," Cherry said. "People are making a living without having to go through the traditional way of publishing."
Cherry also said Createspace, a company that provides free tools to help self-publish and distribute books, is a great avenue for self-publishing.
"It's fantastic," Cherry said. "Createspace works with you to make the printed copy."
One of the downfalls of self-publishing, Cherry said, is that you have to be your own publicist, manager and marketer, and utilize social media as a way to gain presence.
"The main thing you're doing is getting your name out there," said Cherry. "If you do not do the publicity, you will not make it. You end up having to do your own marketing and wear many hats."
Cherry said his love for mystery novels comes from his love of puzzles.
"I love puzzles. I do the New York Times crossword religiously, Sudoku, I've always loved puzzles," Cherry said. "A good mystery should be like a puzzle and should have elements put together to make a solution. I always hate it when the reader couldn't know," Cherry said.
Cherry also said another passion, writing, has been more than a pastime, actually a necessity. He's combined his love of writing with that of hot rods in his regular column "Roamin Angels Corner" that appears in The Union.
"Writing is a passion and something I can't help doing," Cherry said. "I started writing short stories in college and it's not something I just enjoy, but something I need to do."
Part of Cherry's inspiration for "Christmas Cracker" was that he lived in the British Isles for five years, It takes place in England and the title has a two-fold meaning. "Cracker" is British slang for someone who does a great job and is also a type of British Christmas tradition involving a paper tube that participants "crack" open, revealing a paper crown and a joke.
Cherry said the first draft of "Christmas Cracker" was very rough and took four months to complete.
"I despise editing, but it has to be done," said Cherry, who conveniently lives with his editor, his wife Kelly. "Fortunately Kelly is very good and helps with grammar and punctuation."
Cherry said he drew inspiration for his lead character from renowned fictitious detective Sherlock Holmes.
"Morg is an aficionado of Sherlock Holmes and uses observation and deduction," Cherry said.
Cherry said in the course of thinking about and creating Morg, she has nearly become a real person to him.
"If she walked into a room, I'd know her," Cherry said. "Your character is supposed to be a real person. Morg has a very sarcastic nature and is witty."
Cherry said the opening scene of "Foul Shot" was literally a dream he had one night.
"The opening scene literally came from a dream," Cherry said. "It's a story about a Chicago detective who, on his way to meet with a Mafia made-man, sees someone about to shoot the Mafia man, yells 'halt!' runs up to the shooter and the person shoots him and he realizes he knows who it is … it's his girlfriend," Cherry said.
"And the Mafia guy's bodyguard shoots her, but doesn't kill her and the Mafia guy calls an ambulance and the detective flashes back to how he met the girlfriend.
"It's basically a story of a detective named Vince and how his rather orderly, structured life completely changed, was devastated in a sense, after meeting his girlfriend who is like a whirlwind in his controlled life."
Cherry said the character loves basketball and often throws paper into baskets and played with the idea of a "foul shot" for the book's title.
"The concept is foul shot," Cherry said. "When she shoots him it's a foul shot, but also how in basketball when you
make a foul shot you get one point and it's tied in there
how there are different points in life, but Vince only gets one point."
"Christmas Cracker" can be purchased through multiple online sites including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. The first chapter of "Christmas Cracker" and more information can be found at http://www.RLCherry.com, which Cherry advises people check out before purchasing one of his books.
"The last thing I want someone to do is buy a book they don't want," Cherry said.
To contact Staff Writer Jennifer Terman, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4230.
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